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By John Salvi



It is always interesting to participate in an International Tasting Competition in Quebec, not least because on has to try and understand their French – and if one does not understand it then it is even harder to understand their English. However their hospitality is legendary. The Sélections Mondiales des Vins, Canada, always used to belong to and be run by the Societé des Alcools de Quebec (SAQ°. However, a few years ago, when belts were being tightened, they decided that it was no longer a vital item for them and discontinued it.

By immense good fortune Ghislain K-Laflamme, a very senior lawyer, who had worked with the SAQ for many years, decided to take it over and run it privately. He looked about for financial support and found it with Denys Paul-Hus, Vice-President Operations, owner and publisher of the Magazine Prestige, President of the Festival of Gastronomy of Quebec, and President of the National Wine Competition La Coupe des Nations since 2000. Also President of the Corporation of Quebec Restaurateurs and of the annual restaurant gala of Quebec. His son, Pierre Paul-Hus, Vice-President Technology, is also Vice-President of Quebec Gastronomy and co-owner and general manager of Prestige Magazine. He was a former Colonel in the Canadian Army and Commanding Officer of the Régiment de la Chaudière. Finally there is Mme Carole Cliche, Vice-President Administration and collaborator of Sélections Mondiales for 25 years, stretching back to the SAQ days. André Caron, Pierre Cazalis, Mme Barbara Jiménez Herrero, Mme Francine Dion, Réal Wolfe and Mme Jessica Harnois are on the advisory board. The Competition is the largest in North America and enjoys the patronage of the OIV, the UIO and Vinofed.

Having flown to Quebec and settled into the Palace Royale Hotel, we prepared ourselves for 4 solid days of tasting under the rules and regulations, and using the tasting sheets, of the OIV. A brilliant idea was that, each morning before the tasting, we were given a lecture by a member of the jury on his particular expertise. This year we enjoyed:

François Murisier: Viticulture in Switzerland

Hervé Romat: The Sweet Wines of Sauternes

Edmund Diesler: Wines of Germany (plus a tasting)

Serge Dubois: The Role of the International Union of Oenologists

André Caron: The positive influence of educating the clientele

We were 10 juries of 5 coming from 35 countries. We tasted 1624 samples coming from 524 producers (an average of 3.1 samples per producer). 384 samples were from France, 254 from Italy, 144 from Spain, 144 from the USA, 125 from Portugal, 119 from Canada and lesser numbers from the numerous other countries.

971 palabras

A total of 500 medals were awarded. Only 2, really very few indeed, were awarded Grand Gold Medals. APALTAGUA, MALBEC RESERVA, 2009, CHILE, RED, from APALTAGUA and LICOR DE VINO ARIPUCA, 2005, URUGUAY, RED, from BODEGA RODRIGUEZ BIDEGAIN (MASNEY S.A.). 241 Gold and 257 Silver to 27 countries. France won 94 medals, Italy 78, Spain 61. South Africa was awarded 12 medals out of only 40 samples. Macedonia did best, relatively speaking, winning 2 medals with only 3 samples!

Service was proficient and carried out by professionals. Fine glasses, good lighting, white tablecloths, spittoons, dry biscuits, proper Champagne flutes for the Sparkling Wines and mineral water were all in place. Scrumptious snacks, juices, tea and coffee were available during the 2 intervals of the 3-session mornings. The Protocol Service Brigade, who poured the wines, was composed entirely of professional sommeliers from different establishments, some of them taking their business very seriously indeed.

The last afternoon a few of us were asked to conduct a tasting under competition conditions with a group of enthusiastic amateurs. This proved enormous fun and revealed some very considerable wine knowledge and tasting skill among a group of people who were truly passionate about wine.

The social programme was varied, but those of us who have been a number of times have great sympathy for Ghislain who every year has to find new things to do with us. Wonderful city though Quebec is, this must be increasingly difficult without going further and further afield, a solution limited by the length of time at our disposal. The first afternoon was a guided tour of Quebec and a visit to the Beaux-Arts Museum with a Swiss dinner in its restaurant, accompanied by fine Swiss wines. The second day gave all tasters a free afternoon followed by and excellent dinner in the ASTRAL Restaurant of the Le Concorde Hotel. Day three was an excursion. We went to the South Bank, to the Pointe de Lévy, where we visited an ancient fort built originally to resist attack by the Americans. Dinner was at the Italian Restaurant, Michelangelo, with the extrovert Italian owner and some fine Italian wines. The 4th day was a fun afternoon during which we visited both a cheese factory and a micro-brewery in Charlevoix – the stout was exquisite and whetted the appetite for dinner in the Marion restaurant in the Baie Saint-Paul. The last day was traditionally the Gala dinner during which the medal winners were revealed by important personalities. The guest of honour was Mme Hélène Le Gal, French Consul-General in Quebec. The dinner took place in the magnificent surroundings of the Parliamentary Restaurant on the first floor of the Quebec National Assembly after a guided visit.

This competition is one of the great Classics and totally indispensable. Ghislain has done a magnificent job of keeping it going and improving upon it in every way after the SAQ bowed out. Today it is even more enjoyable and prestigious. Impeccably yet strictly run it sets an example. Congratulations to all involved – you have succeeded admirably in creating one of the finest international tasting competitions in the world today.

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